8pm WATCH: Philip Hammond: While any rescue attempt involves risk, it was the best chance of securing the Nigeria hostages

Lawson bbcdp5.30pm WATCH: Lord Lawson: It's better to cut the rates of taxation than take people out of tax altogether

4pm MPsETC: Tory MPs condemn Government interference over Backbench Business Committee

2.45pm Local Government: Over 3,500 applications for Diamond Jubilee street parties so far

2pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: The logic of the Churches' position is that they should cease to recognise state marriage

Miliband Ed March 20122pm WATCH: Ed Miliband: "We should have done more to regulate the banks, and that's a lesson we've got to learn"

1.15pm Justin Tomlinson MP on Comment: How to revamp our libraries

Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Alabama and Mississippi vote tonight – can Romney solve his Southern problem?

9.15am MPsETC: Ben Wallace MP reveals how the Queen played a part in his selection as a Conservative candidate

ToryDiary: A translation of today's Obama/Cameron Washington Post article

Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: The public has yet to decide if it wants a more regulated capitalism

Mark Wadsworth on Comment: Scrapping pension relief for higher rate taxpayers could pay for income tax and NI cuts

Grit List complete

Building a Conservative Majority (13): The Grit List – Twenty Tory MPs who should be on TV and radio a lot more

Local Government: Councils should give local suppliers a chance on procurement

WATCH: "The Government can't just make it rain" -  Spelman on hosepipe ban

Obama and Cameron to talk.  Their aim: to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible, stay out of Syria and give sanctions a chance to work in Iran

"Thousands of British and American troops would return from Afghanistan early next year under plans to be discussed by David Cameron and President Obama. The leaders will lay the ground for a sharp drawdown of personnel as part of a strategy for the exit of combat forces by the end of 2014. They are also expected to use a meeting at the Oval Office tomorrow to fix mid-2013 as the point when Afghan forces must take the lead in combat operations across the country." – The Times (£)

Cameron & Obama
"The alliance between the United States and Great Britain is a partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share. But what makes our relationship special — a unique and essential asset — is that we join hands across so many endeavors. Put simply, we count on each other and the world counts on our alliance." – Barack Obama and David Cameron, Washington Post

  • Taliban vow revenge for U.S soldier's attack on Afghans – The Guardian
  • Cameron "not sympathetic" to plight of alleged arms dealer Christopher Tappin ahead of Obama meeting – Daily Telegraph
  • Mr Cameron goes to Washington – Financial Times Editorial (£)
  • Will Cameron's visit to the United States be all basketball and PR baloney? – Toby Harnden, Daily Mail

Rory Stewart: We must leave Afghanistan as swiftly as possible

Screen shot 2012-03-13 at 08.08.10"Some US and UK generals have long been pressing for “just one more fighting season”. They feel that with just a little more time, things will improve. They are wrong. The longer we stay, the worse things will become…The time has come for the US and its allies such as the UK to begin the process of withdrawal — clearly, orderly, with dignity, minimising the number of casualties as we do so, and leaving only a light footprint behind." – Rory Stewart, Evening Standard

"These days, American and British generals strive to teach their men respect for local societies. They know that winning hearts and minds is vital.  But in Afghanistan, even before this latest horror story, they have failed…However hard commanders try to disguise the fact, many Americans fighting in Afghanistan are viscerally hostile to Muslims, and regard local people with just the sort of cultural contempt their fathers displayed towards the Vietnamese." – Max Hastings, Daily Mail

  • No cut and run – Times Editorial (£)
  • It’s unavoidable: we must talk to the Taliban – David Miliband, The Times (£)
  • The Devil dwells in all of us. And when he possesses a soldier, it's fearful to behold what can be unleashed – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • Frank Field wants Assad hauled before the international criminal court – The Sun

Prime Minister says Christians should be able to wear a cross at work

"Christians should be able to wear a cross at work, David Cameron said last night. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles also said a "discreet display" of religion should be welcomed. They distanced themselves from Government lawyers who are urging European human rights judges to dismiss the claims of two women barred from wearing the symbol. Mr Cameron's spokesman said: "The PM's personal view is that people should be able to wear crosses." – The Sun

> Yesterday: Columnist Andrew Lilico: The government should protect the right of Christians to be visible

Network Rail not accountable enough, say MPsThe Guardian

"Doctors give up fight with Government over NHS reforms"

Screen shot 2012-03-13 at 08.11.40"Doctors' leaders have issued an extraordinary appeal to David Cameron for a truce in their vitriolic battle over the Government's health reforms. In a personal letter to the Prime Minister, the head of the Royal College of GPs, one of the organisations most vociferously opposed to the Bill, has called for talks on how to implement the legislation. The move, which will dismay other opponents of the reforms, comes as the Bill returns to the House of Lords today. It is also due to be discussed in the Commons after Labour forced an opposition day debate." – The Independent

  • All-Party Smoking Group attack appointment of the IEA's Mark Littlewood as a red tape adviserThe Independent

Yesterday: WATCH – Sitting on the fence… Lib Dem activists vote not to endorse or to reject NHS reforms

Government's human rights law review body fatally split, leaked papers reveal

"Emails and internal papers passed to The Daily Telegraph reveal the Bill of Rights Commission is riven by division and unlikely to agree final proposals later this year. The lack of agreement will make it difficult for the Prime Minister to persuade his Liberal Democrat colleagues to agree to a new British Bill of Rights when it reports back. This could mean that any plans to replace the Human Rights Act, which currently enshrines the European Convention of Human Rights in UK law, will be pushed back until after the next election, which is expected to be held in 2015." – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: WATCH – Douglas Carswell MP calls for Ken Clarke to be sacked – "We need to get ourselves a new Justice Secretary"

Theresa May launches ketamine review The Times (£)

"IDS victory over Clegg over marriage"

DUNCAN SMITH AITW"The move comes amid a bitter row inside the Coalition on whether the State should back marriage. And it signals a major victory for ex-Conservative boss Iain Duncan Smith over Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.  But in a speech today, Mr Duncan Smith will say: 'We are sending out a clear message that stable families do matter…At the heart of this, it means emphasising the Government's support for marriage.' We are clear in this strategy that marriage should be supported and encouraged." – The Sun

  • The Prime Minister should make it clear that dealing with the underclass is a national priority – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

Mark Pritchard tells Cameron to toughen immigration policies. "Yesterday contributors to leading Tory website ConservativeHome blamed the Lib Dems for blocking tighter border controls. They called for tougher policies in the drive to win an outright majority at the next election." Daily Express

Fury at Coalition's "nobbling" of MPs

"The Coalition last night stood accused of an 'abuse' of power after railroading plans through Parliament to limit backbenchers' ability to hold ministers to account. Ministers ensured the rules were changed in an attempt to 'nobble' the membership of the influential backbench business committee, which has the power to initiate debates in the Commons." – Daily Mail

  • "Yesterday the government rushed proposals through to change the way the Committee is elected in future, against the wishes of the current Committee. It was a sad and strange decision." – John Redwood's Blog
  • Sleaze watchdog reined in by MPs over "bedroom and bottle" fears – Daily Mail

> Yesterday MPsETC – The Government's attempt to fix the Backbench Business Committee would take back power for the executive

Screen shot 2012-03-13 at 08.51.09This revolving door risks undermining trust in government – Blair Gibbs, The Independent

Budget rumours latest: Osborne "will resist calls to axe middle-class pension tax perk"

"George Osborne is poised to reject calls to halve the tax relief on the pensions of the better off in next week’s Budget, despite fresh pressure from Labour and the Liberal Democrats…Last night Tory sources were also stressing the scale of the opposition from both business and the pensions industry to any attempt to claw back billions from the pensions of higher-rate taxpayers." – Daily Mail

  • Clegg retreats on "tycoon tax" – The Independent
  • Big firms will have to persuade staff to leave, rather than fire them, under a Liberal Democrat watering down of Beecroft report – Daily Telegraph
  • Irrelevant tax debate shows the sorry state of the coalition – Philip Stephens, Financial Times (£)
  • Balls claims Osborne gave rich "£1.6 billion tax cut" – The Times (£)
  • "Either the tax relief was likely to be announced in the Budget and the Lib Dems were keen to get the credit in advance, or Osborne is less keen than the Lib Dems, and Laws was applying pressure. If it is the former, Balls gets there first. If it is the latter, he exacerbates the increasingly volatile tensions within the Coalition by siding with the Lib Dems." – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • Miliband says ease the squeeze on the middle – Financial Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Next week George Osborne should announce the biggest ever tax cuts for working families

Labour leader spotted at football match hours after claiming he was too ill to attend protest against NHS reforms

Miliband Ed Open Mouth"It was the kind of miraculous recovery that his supporters have been hoping he would pull off in the opinion polls.  Apparently down and out with illness, Ed Miliband cancelled an appearance at a rally to protest against the NHS reforms. The event was duly called off. But three hours after it had been due to begin, the Labour leader was spotted taking his seat at a football match on a warm Saturday afternoon." – Daily Mail

  • Miliband says Livingstone has paid his dues over tax – The Times (£)

Assault MP Eric Joyce MP resigns from the Labour PartyDaily Mail

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, to advise the government on a new “crowdsourcing” approach to policymakingFinancial Times (£)

5,000 days and still no Drumcree resolution Newsletter

Michael Heseltine to receive freedom of the city of LiverpoolThe Independent


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